Decoding the Tripping Brain

© SEAN MCCABE

Lying in a room at Imperial College London, surrounded by low lighting and music, Kirk experienced a vivid recollection of visiting his sick mother before she passed away. “I used to go and see my mum in the hospital quite a lot,” recalls Kirk, a middle-aged computer technician who lives in London (he requested we use only his first name). “And a lot of the time she’d be asleep . . . [but] she’d always sense I was there, and after about five minutes she’d wake up, and we’d interact. I kind of went through that again—but it was a kind of letting go.”

Kirk choked up slightly while retelling his experience. “It’s still a little bit emotional,” he says. “The thing I realized [was that] I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to hold on to the grief, because that was the only connection I had with my mum.”

While this may sound like an ordinary therapy session, it was not what you would typically expect. Kirk was experiencing the effects of a 25-mg dose of psilocybin—the active ingredient in psychedelic “magic” mushrooms—which he had ingested as part of a 2015 clinical trial investigating the drug’s therapeutic potential.

Source: Decoding the Tripping Brain

MDMA on subjective and BOLD-fMRI responses to autobiographical memories

The effect of acutely administered MDMA on subjective and BOLD-fMRI responses to favourite and worst autobiographical memories

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a potent monoamine-releaser that is widely used as a recreational drug. Preliminary work has supported the potential of MDMA in psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The neurobiological mechanisms underlying its putative efficacy are, however, poorly understood. Psychotherapy for PTSD usually requires that patients revisit traumatic memories, and it has been argued that this is easier to do under MDMA. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate the effect of MDMA on recollection of favourite and worst autobiographical memories (AMs). Nineteen participants (five females) with previous experience with MDMA performed a blocked AM recollection (AMR) paradigm after ingestion of 100 mg of MDMA-HCl or ascorbic acid (placebo) in a double-blind, repeated-measures design.

Memory cues describing participants’ AMs were read by them in the scanner. Favourite memories were rated as significantly more vivid, emotionally intense and positive after MDMA than placebo and worst memories were rated as less negative. Functional MRI data from 17 participants showed robust activations to AMs in regions known to be involved in AMR.

There was also a significant effect of memory valence: hippo-campal regions showed preferential activations to favourite memories and executive regions to worst memories. MDMA augmented activations to favourite memories in the bilateral fusiform gyrus and somatosensory cortex and attenuated activations to worst memories in the left anterior temporal cortex. These findings are consistent with a positive emotional-bias likely mediated by MDMA’s pro-monoaminergic pharmacology.

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LSD enhances the emotional response to music

LSD enhances the emotional response to music

Rationale

There is renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide LSD). LSD was used extensively in the 1950s and 1960s as an adjunct in psychotherapy, reportedly enhancing emotionality. Music is an effective tool to evoke and study emotion and is considered an important element in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy; however, the hypothesis that psychedelics enhance the emotional response to music has yet to be investigated in a modern placebo-controlled study.

Objectives

The present study sought to test the hypothesis that music-evoked emotions are enhanced under LSD.

Methods

Ten healthy volunteers listened to five different tracks of instrumental music during each of two study days, a placebo day followed by an LSD day, separated by 5 – 7days. Subjective ratings were completed after each music track and included a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the nine-item Geneva Emotional Music Scale (GEMS-9). Results Results demonstrated that the emotional response to music is enhanced by LSD, especially the emotions wonder,transcendence,power and tenderness.

Conclusions

These findings reinforce the long-held assumption that psychedelics enhance music-evoked emotion, and provide tentative and indirect support for the notion that this effect can be harnessed in the context of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Further research is required to test this link directly.


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Document originally published at Researchgate LSD enhances the emotional response to music

Implications for psychedelic assisted psychotherapy

magnetic resonance imaging study with psilocybin – Implications for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: functional

Br_J_Psychiatry_2012_Carhart-Harris-thumbnailBackground
Psilocybin is a classic psychedelic drug that has a history of use in psychotherapy. One of the rationales for its use was that it aids emotional insight by lowering psychological defences.

Aims
To test the hypothesis that psilocybin facilitates access to personal memories and emotions by comparing subjective and neural responses to positive autobiographical memories under psilocybin and placebo.


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